July 4, 2020
Course Design Treatise
In his Master of Landscape Architecture capstone thesis “Disc Golf Course Design: Inscribing Lifestyle into Underutilized Landscapes” Michael Plansky posits this lifestyle-sport is growing at an exponential rate. This is the first published academic effort to develop criteria for course design based on accepted principles of social science research. Plansky demonstrates that spatial requirements, ecological impacts, design elements, participant motivations, participant demographics, and other factors influence players’ experience on the disc golf course. Landscape architects and any course designer must understand all the influences on the experience as the need for high quality courses grows with participant numbers. Plansky’s work contributes to a solid foundation of academic research that will help inform designers who can contribute to disc golf’s incorporation into public recreation. Plansky’s work begins with a well-researched exploration of the origins and development of this lifestyle sport. In the following literature review, “play” and “flow” are eloquently discussed as important elements associated with quality disc golf experiences. Plansky’s original research efforts utilized inventory and analysis of four Southern California courses to develop common Course Typologies, and semi structured interviews with 44 players from those four courses to understand contemporary motivations for participating and elements of course design that influence the experience. Plansky clearly translates conclusions from his research into tangible recommendations for course design within his original “playbook”, however his personal opinions regarding course quality are easily spotted as well. But considering the longevity of Plansky’s well-traveled experiences with the game, his own opinions are well informed. Plansky proposes inscribing disc golf courses into underutilized urban landscapes and his research suggests that this practice would be well received by disc golfers. Doing so could provide social, ecological, community, and public health benefits; Plansky deserves to be commended for illuminating this idea on an academic stage. In this work designers have a well-informed reference for creating quality disc golf courses, while academics have a publication that bolsters the foundation of scholarly research on the topic. Furthermore, academics will find the document useful in defining new research questions to explore regarding disc golf course design.